Pope Francis has said repeatedly that he wants to see greater roles for women in the Roman Catholic Church, and some argue that he could take a giant step in that direction by appointing women to the College of Cardinals.
This has led to a lot of speculation, even though there is absolutely no sign it would happen.
Whether it’s even possible is a matter of debate. But that hasn’t stopped the feverish speculation, which was sparked last month by an article in a Spanish newspaper in which Juan Arias, a former priest who writes from Brazil, wrote that the idea “is not a joke. It’s something that Pope Francis has thought about before: naming a woman cardinal.”
Arias quoted an unnamed priest — a Jesuit, like Francis – who said: “Knowing this pope, he wouldn’t hesitate before appointing a woman cardinal. … And he would indeed enjoy being the first pope to allow women to participate in the selection of a new pontiff.”
That was enough to start the ball rolling. The report was quickly picked up by Catholic media in Italy and then raced around a church that, in the months since Francis’ election, has been primed to expect the unexpected from this pope.
So who would they pick?
The Rev. James Keenan, a Jesuit and moral theologian at Boston College suggested a list that included Linda Hogan, a professor of ecumenics at Trinity College Dublin; Sister Teresa Okure, a theology professor at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Nigeria; and Maryanne Loughry, associate director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Australia.
(Pssst, guys. If you can’t get around that rule that only Bishops can be Cardinals… we might have a few ideas. Give us a call.)